The dawn of the millennium brought with it the Sega Dreamcast, and though the console shone briefly, it did produce a lot of zeitgeist capturing games that still resonate fondly with, One such example, Sega’s Crazy Taxi, showed that light-hearted action, speed, and a reckless disregard for traffic laws can be a winning combination. A perfect fit for America’s favourite animated family, The Simpsons. In 2003, The residents of Springfield found fruit in emulating the classic game, and took the premise to wild new locations, in the Gameboy Advance version of The Simpsons: Road Rage.
The basic premise is that greedy industrialist, Mr Burns, has brought out all the public transport in Springfield and jacked up the prices. The citizens of Springfield have revolted, banded together to offer competition and to raise money one million bucks to buy it back. As you might expect, the gameplay is very similar to Crazy Taxi, you start sessions of one minute, increasing that time by fulfilling flairs, driving recklessly as your customers demand, each second with a passenger earning you precious dollars. As your total gameplay time ticks in the balance. How much can you earn as you keep the clock alive?
There are some changes from the consoles that should be addressed, with cartridge space limited, the ability to save is relegated to a novel password system. The console offerings relying on full 3D renderings, the Gameboy Advance version has similar depictions of the seven districts of Springfield, utilising the iconic Mode 7 graphics to bring them to life. There is a liberated sense of colour, combined with the impressively joyous and catchy chiptune soundtrack makes repeat playthroughs a blast. You start with the basic Simpsons family as drivers and acquire more of the cast as the money rolls in. They each have their unique car, a clever call back to some of the more inventive vehicles the show has featured.
Aside from Road Rage’s Crazy Taxi contributions, there is a performance mode see how much damage you can rack up (without worrying about your passenger), along with 20 bespoke missions. Or if you just fancy taking a relaxing cruise, your free to do so. These modes pack plenty of gameplay prospects not including the competitive head-to-head options. The money you earn from each game mode session is accumulated towards unlockable from new missions to master to new districts to ply your trades. Its quick bursts of action make it well suited for portable gameplay and would probably feel at home on Smartphones (if they were a thing at the time).
Road Rage for the Gameboy Advance is a colourful, charming collision of great ideas and impressive optimisations to bring the console experience to the limited portable hardware. Road Rage’s Crazy-Taxi-on-the-go gameplay is addicting, and the maps, presentation, and modes kept me coming back for more. While aimed at consoles, the Gameboy Advance entry demonstrated this quick-paced action is well-matched for portability. The Simpsons Road Rage has its goal and its destination and as such, it more than pays its fare.
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